Swedish retail company H&M recently announced an upcoming clothes recycling venture, starting in February 2013. The fashion recycling campaign will span 48 nations, including the company’s Israeli franchises. This will make H&M the first chain to execute a global textile-recycling venture. H&M is expected to choose two of its Israeli branches to lead the pilot program.
Customers will be invited to leave old clothes for recycling in participating stores across the world, in return for H&M vouchers. In Israel, each bag of clothes will be worth a NIS 20 (roughly $5) voucher. So far there are no restrictions on the size of the bags or on the condition of the clothes. The only limitation is a two-bag deposit per customer, per day. The campaign will accept garments from any manufacturer.
Sustainable fashion is a burgeoning market in Israel. In 2011, Israeli designer Amit Ayalon was chosen by Envirosax to create couture pieces out of colorful reusable bags. Ayalon’s creation included a jacket, Victorian corset, bustle and a skirt with a dramatic train. In summer 2010, the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya hosted the “Thirsty for Change” fashion show, featuring upcycled couture fashions, to raise awareness about local water conservation.
Just a few months earlier, in spring 2010, thousands of Israeli shoppers stormed Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv when H&M opened its Israeli branch with the Garden Collection, the retailer’s first collection made from organic cotton and recyclable materials. H&M Israel’s CEO, Andrew Horesh, said that the collection was exceedingly popular with Israeli consumers.
Given the Jewish nation’s enthusiasm for recycled fashion in recent years, choosing Israeli H&M branches to lead the pilot program seems like a shrewd plan. Clothing in good condition will be distributed to thrift shops; worn garments will be recycled into towels or napkins or reclaimed for the textile industry; and organic fabrics in poor condition will be recycled in biogas ventures. According to H&M, 95 percent of discarded garments can be recycled.
Read more about sustainable fashion in Israel: